The high-level committee for central assistance to states affected by natural calamities has approved Rs 778 crore for Maharashtra, to combat drought in a number of districts. Meeting in Delhi on Thursday under the chairmanship of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, it also approved Rs 526 crore in drought aid to Karnataka.
The Congress-NCP government here is struggling to tackle drought conditions in 145 of the state’s 353 talukas. Scarcity has been announced in 6,250 villages due to low rainfall. The government has launched multiple programmes, such as animal camps, drinking water supply through tankers and works under the state’s Employment Guarantee Scheme. It has also asked neighbouring Karnataka to release some water for relief to border districts.
Maharashtra has had lack of rainfall and resulting drought for 24 months, impacting the 2011 kharif, the 2011-12 rabi and the 2012 kharif. The state government had sought help from the the National Disaster Response Fund. An inter-ministerial central ream led by R B Sinha, joint secretary, visited Maharashtra on November 21-23 to assess and gave its recommendation to an Inter-Ministerial Group constituted under the chairmanship of the agriculture secretary. The IMG met on December 21 and recommended assistance to the high-level committee, which convened on Thursday.